I’m Paula Williams. Welcome to APG Radio Episode 5. Today we’re featuring a clip from a live webinar we produced with Captain David Santo about the Airline Pilot Gateway program and exactly how our program helps people get from square one, with the first impulse to become an airline pilot, through all the steps it takes to find the right resources and guidance to become a commercial airline pilot.

APG Questions.001 - become a commercial airline pilot

Part of the reason that we’re really fortunate to have Dave here is because he is so good at explaining. The airline career opportunity, and all of the things that go along with it. So he’s gonna be doing most of the talking today. And here we have kind of a summary of our Airline Pilot Gateway Program to become a commercial airline pilot.

David Santo: Sure, Paula, thank you. So, [COUGH], here, it’s always nice to come and talk about the aviation career. It’s been a career that I’ve been a part of for a long time now. I’m not gonna date myself and say how many years.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH].

David Santo: And I am an Airbus A320 captain currently.

Step One – Download The Brochure

Very excited to share my career and career success with others, because it’s such a good time to be in the aviation industry. So let me start with talking about the brochure. Step one, here on the slide. The brochure is designed really to help young men and women or individuals really of all ages, determine is this something that they want to get into.

We need to make a decision, do we have an interest in aviation? If we do have an interest in aviation then the next steps. Are going to try to refine that, and try to provide you with a pathway or a gateway, if you will, from zero time to career success, or anywhere in between, to plug you into this formula.

APG Future Pilot Brochure - become a commercial airline pilot!

Click here to download the brochure.


Paula Williams: Right, that makes perfect sense.

Step Two – Attend a Webinar About How to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot.

David Santo: I’m going to look at step number two, attend a webinar, and so here we are at the webinar. You know, I think one of the goals for the webinar is to just answer questions about the career. There’s a lot of myths out there.

We recently did a little bit of homework, and it was very interesting. We Googled how many airline pilots there were in the United States, and we came up with a number somewhere around 144,000 airline pilots.

Paula Williams: Wow.

David Santo: Now that sounds like a big number, but then when you look at the number of doctors there’s several times more doctors than there are airline pilots.

They’re several times more lawyers and engineers even than there are doctors. So we’re talking about a very, very small percentage of society really ever become a commercial airline pilot. And that kind of reinforces what we thought that most people making a new entry or a new interest into the aviation career.

Who do they know that can help them? Because it’s not an easy career path to circumnavigate all the hurdles and find a direct line to success. There’s a lot of pitfalls. There’s a lot of landmines in the way and And how do we help these folks successfully get into the industry.

And that’s a little bit about this whole gateway is how do we create a pathway for you that will help you to learn from others. Sometimes they’re mistakes and sometimes they’re successes, but how to have a more successful journey to the airline pilot career. And one of the things that I get really excited about Paula, that you guys are doing is the airline pilot gateway flight plan.

But I’m just going to these bullets Paula and if you want. I can stop anywhere along the line. Do you want me to just kind of continue to talk through some of those bullets before moving on?

Paula Williams: No, that’s perfect. I was just gonna make a comment that doctors and other professions, they can think that residencies and other types of apprenticeships and programs like that.

But there’s really nothing like that in the airline industry, right?

David Santo: Well, there is and there isn’t. So this is one of the things that’s misunderstood about the airline industry. There are a lot of people out there, especially the domestic United States, who. We’ll say, well initial airline pay is very low and it is.

It can be very low. And that is because it’s a lot like a doctor’s residency. You can’t look at the entry level positions to make a career decision. You have to look at the retirement level positions, and. Everything in between to decide, is there a return on investment?

And is this the right job for me? And let speak to that for a second, Paula, if I can. So commuter airlines in the United States, some of them pay as little as $24,000 a year. That’s pretty low pay. You’re only going to be in that position for a few years and that’s similar to a residency for a doctor.

What does a U.S. Major airline pilot make? A major U.S. Airline pilot is making well into the 6 figure income. It’s not uncommon for that income to be north of 200,000 and for some airlines and for folks that are senior, it’s possible to be north of $300,000 a year in total earning potential.

Keep in mind, when you look at those numbers and that’s a lot of money at least to me.

Paula Williams: Right.

David Santo: An airline pilot can work as little as 18 days to 15 days a month. I know folks that work less than 12 days a month to make those type of salary.

So It’s the total package. It’s the time off. It’s the quality of life. It’s the compensation. It’s the benefits. All of these gets much better as you progress through your career and you build up seniority. So, yes, the entry level can be painful. But that’s your time-building stage.

That’s where you’re building experience. And then as you increase your experience level, and you change jobs, and you start to get the seniority built up, you really start reaping the benefits of a very rewarding. And a strong return on investment career.

Paula Williams: Excellent.

Step Three – Get a Customized APG Flight Plan & Mentor

APG Flight Plan - become a commercial airline pilot

Click here to get your Customized Flight Plan

David Santo: But, to get you there, and that’s where I go with step three, and I get really jazzed up this Paula with step three.

So I apologize if I get a little animated here. But when I was coming up through the aviation industry, I didn’t have a mentor. I didn’t have any flight plan or guidance. In fact, I recall going to my career counselor and asking my career counselor, how do I become a pilot?

Paula Williams: Right.

David Santo: And the absurdity now, to think about being a professional airline pilot and thinking about asking a guidance counselor who probably doesn’t know anybody in aviation, doesn’t know anything about aviation. He’s trying to research information out of a book. I got the canned answers. Well, you’ve got to go in the military.

APG - Perfect Vision



Or you have to go into some really expensive flight school program, like an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, for example. And none of that’s true, by the way. I was also told you have to have perfect vision, I don’t have perfect vision. I was told you have to be really good at math and science.


APG - Math Genius

And although I think math and science is always very important, I don’t want to discourage people because here’s the reality. We’re not doing trigonometry on final approach doing 250 knots. That is just not happening. The extent of the math that we use is pretty much high school level, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing.

Maybe some compensating descent ratios or something, but it’s very, very simplistic math that we can do in our heads. So we wanted to try to help people to understand if you are of normal intelligence, you have good situational awareness skills, you have average health, there’s really no reason why if you really want to get into this career path, you can’t.

Paula Williams: Right.

David Santo: And what this Airline Pilot Gateway flight plan does is takes people like me. And we help you by giving you a survey, a bunch of questions in fact, a painful number of questions, trying to understand your likes and dislikes, where you live, where you want to be, what you want to do. Do you really want to become a commercial airline pilot?

Because the career is not one size fits all. There’s so many different options out there in this career. And what the career flight plan, the APG flight plan, which is I think unique to APG, I’ve never heard of anybody else doing this before. It’s really going to create a life plan to help you figure out how to accomplish the goals that you’ve set out in the questionnaire.

So Paula, kudos to you guys, what a really cool idea and a concept. And I think that right there, step number three, is absolutely worth its weight in gold to help the men and women that are new entrants into this industry, help kind of give them a game plan for their career success.

Paula Williams: That’s an excellent point. And I think that’s, yeah, a lot of people try to do this on their own. And they run into some issues. But we do have a lot of people asking questions, which is wonderful.

So, if you do have questions, go ahead and type them into the chat window, and we will be getting to some of the questions that we already have. And then we’ll get to the other questions, also. So, feel free to type those in at any time. Sorry about the interruption, Dave, go right ahead.

David Santo: So then, based on your flight plan, and this is another really wonderful attribute to the way this has been structured. And that is, it’s up to the individual whether you wanna go follow the flight plan on your own. Or do you want to have the Airline Pilot Gateway and its mentorship program help you to walk that path and be there for you every step of the way.

Because, the best laid plans are still not going to cover every single hurdle, every single pitfall, every single fork in the road that’s gonna come up. Wouldn’t it be nice as a new entrant into this industry to have a person, an airline pilot, an experienced, seasoned airline professional there to help answer questions for you?

Ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat. But boy, wouldn’t it be nice to have somebody who’s done it before to be there to say, you know what, this is what I would suggest. This is how I would handle that. This is what this means to you long term. And so if somebody chooses, and I would highly recommend it, APG will then help you deliver that flight plan.

And I’m sorry Paula, go ahead.

Paula Williams: No, that’s all right, I was just agreeing with you. [LAUGH] You’re doing great. You’re explaining this much better than I could.

Step Four – APG Basic Flight Training

David Santo: Thank you. So, then we get into the bullet number four, which is the flight training phase.

And so, the Airline Pilot Gateway program, based on your tailored flight plan or your desire, you don’t have to do the flight plan, by the way. This is an option. If you know that you’re ready, and you know what you want to do, okay, great. Let’s get you there.

So we get you enrolled into flight training where you would complete all of your basics. And that’s what I would refer to as your private pilot, your instrument, your commercial, your multi-engine license. And then you’re gonna get to another decision point, a fork in the road. And the fork in the road is going to be, do you want to be come a airline pilot in the United States?

Step Five – Career-Based Flight Training

And are you willing to flight instruct as a means of building time? And if so, this is where you go into step five, which is your career-tailored training. You would go off to a flight instructor program. But all the while you’re in that basic flight training and that tailored flight training, APG is introducing the additional missing ingredients, that’s airline tailored specific training.

For example, philosophies on how to do checklists, how we do things in the airlines. Flight schools, so many of them, none of the people at the flight school have every made it into the airlines themselves. So, they’re still teaching the same way they’ve taught for 20, 30, 40 years, and they’ve been very, very successful at it.

What we want to do is add into that training the missing ingredients of the hot topics for airline pilots. Aircrew decision making, CRM, weather, and jet aircraft operations, high altitude, high airspeed theory. Runway incursions, control flight in the terrain, there’s a number of topics that just aren’t really baked into most flight schools, and they are baked in to APG.

The other career tailor training program, Paula, could be, what if you’re somebody from Bangladesh or you’re from India or Nepal or anywhere else in the world? Flight instructing may not help you, it may not be an option for you. What we’re gonna look at in your case is, how do we best accelerate and boost your career?

And this is by adding a jet transition course, maybe an ATP CTP course or a type rate on an Airbus or a Boeing aircraft. So that you can go out and be type rate ready to apply to directly to an airline in your home country or to the country that you’re targeting for employment.

Step Six- Resume Prep, Interview & Time Building

Again, that’s very unique that you can go from zero experience all the way to airline placement ready. Cadet to captain in a gateway program, ready to go at the airlines of your choice, the targeted airlines. And then to help you get on with those airlines, we’re providing resume prep, interview time building, all the stuff that mentorship is designed to do to make you a career success.

Step Seven – Career Mentoring

Make sure you get that career placement, analyzing the different airlines and trying to help you to decide which one’s the best fit for you. And then the ongoing career mentoring, by golly Paula, I wish I would have had this option. As you start to make money, it’d be nice to be able to have other airline pilots to reach out to and say, how do I best be a good steward of that money?

How do I invest it correctly? What can I do to build my career success? And those ongoing services, I don’t know that they’ve ever been there before. And I really, again, appreciate the fact that this is not just a cadet program. It’s a cadet to captain and beyond.

Paula Williams: Right, I think it used to be that people would consider the HR department of the airline that they’re working with to be their career development specialist. But I don’t know that that’s necessarily true anymore, because the world’s kind of changed. We kind of have to have an advocate that is your advocate, not the airline’s advocate.

Does that make sense?

David Santo: It sure does, and a lot of people go onto the blogs, and the typical people responding to these blogs are not necessarily the ones that have made it. They’re the ones who are also looking for advice or haven’t made it. Let’s cut out all of that mystery.

Let’s just get you tagged up with an airline pilot who has been there, who’s done it, who’s made it. And they want to give back to help you make it as far, if not further, than they have.

Paula Williams: Thanks for joining us!
Be sure to tune in for Episode 6, where Captain David Santo goes into more detail answering YOUR questions about the requirements to become an airline pilot.